Missed deadlines and an underfunded Canada Space Agency (CSA) may scuttle plans to build the next generation of earth observing satellites, according to the Canadian satellite company pegged to build them.

In 2010, the CSA selected MacDonald, Detwillier and Associates Ltd. to design the successor to Radarsat-2, the agency’s current earth observing satellite. The company came up with a three-satellite system that would provide information for maritime surveillance, disaster management and ecosystem monitoring. But Dan Friedman, the company’s president and chief executive officer, says the federal government missed a target deadline for awarding the building contract in January, according to a story in the Globe and Mail and the CSA may not have enough money for the project.

The Radarsat Constellation calls for three satellites (scalable to six) to maintain a polar orbit and provide radar images of nearly all of Canada’s land and waters. The Constellation would monitor ice and icebergs, winds and oil pollution in shipping lanes and coastal zones on a daily basis. It would also provide information on the state of Canada’s forests, changes to vegetation in protected areas and important wildlife habitat, and monitor wetlands and coastal change.  Unlike Radarsat-2, which is owned by MDA, the Canadian government would own Constellation.

Canada’s Earth observing satellites, Radarsat-1 and -2, have been important in mapping natural disasters, such as the 2011 flooding in Queensland, Australia, as well as the Antarctic’s glaciers and ice sheets. including a subsurface view of the ice-covered Lake Vostok.

Keep reading this story at Nature.

Written by Hannah

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